cover image Asian American Histories of the United States

Asian American Histories of the United States

Catherine Ceniza Choy. Beacon, $26.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8070-5079-8

Choy (Empire of Care), a professor of ethnic studies at U.C. Berkeley, chronicles the diverse experiences of Asian Americans over the past 150 years in this illuminating history. Contending that Asian American contributions and struggles have been erased from standard histories of the U.S., Choy highlights the complexity of the Asian American experience, noting that various groups migrated at different times and under different circumstances. She details the recruitment of male Chinese railroad workers in the 1860s; the increase in international adoptions from Asian countries, in particular Korea, in the 1950s; and the influx of refugees from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. She also discusses how nursing shortages have been filled by the recruitment of Filipino nurses and describes the distressing uptick in anti-Asian violence during the Covid-19 pandemic as the latest chapter in a “long-standing history of racializing Asians as disease carriers.” Amid the harrowing stories of abuse and prejudice—including the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII—Choy interweaves inspiring acts of resistance, among them Filipino American labor activist Larry Itliong’s leadership of the Delano Grape Strike in 1965. Sharply drawn profiles of individual Asian Americans add depth to Choy’s broad overview and bring historic events to dramatic life. The result is an essential reconsideration of American history. (Aug.)